The 2014 Spirit Awards, Film Independent’s annual honors for the year in indie film, were handed out in Santa Monica, Calif. on Saturday, with “12 Years a Slave” emerging as the day’s big winner. Steve McQueen’s drama earned awards for Best Feature, Best Director (McQueen), Best Supporting Female (Lupita Nyong’o), Best Screenplay (John Ridley) and Best Cinematography (Sean Bobbitt).
“12 Years a Slave” received two other Spirit Award nominations: Best Lead Male for Chiwetel Ejiofor and Best Supporting Male for Michael Fassbender. Both of those categories were dominated by “Dallas Buyers Club,” as stars Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, respectively, took the lead and supporting trophies.
The other acting winner at the Spirit Awards was Cate Blanchett, who won Best Lead Female for her role in “Blue Jasmine.” It’s expected that all four Spirit winners will repeat at Sunday’s Academy Award ceremony, which would mark the first time in the 29-year history of the independent film awards that its acting honors matched a perfect four for four with the Oscars.
Elsewhere at the Spirit Awards, Ryan Coogler’s “Fruitvale Station” won Best First Feature. “Fruitvale Station,” which debuted at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, is about the death of Oscar Grant, a black man who was shot by law enforcement officials at the Bay Area Rapid Transit station of the film’s title on New Year’s Day in 2009. During his acceptance speech, Coogler referenced the death of Jonathan Ferrell, who was shot 10 times by a police officer after crashing his car and going to seek help. “I can’t help but think if Jonathan Ferrell looked like Matthew McConaughey he would have been alive today,” Coogler said (via THR). The director was given a standing ovation after his acceptance speech.
“12 Years a Slave”
BEST LEAD FEMALE
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
BEST LEAD MALE
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
BEST FIRST FEATURE
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
“This Is Martin Bonner”
John Ridley, “12 Years a Slave”
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Bob Nelson, “Nebraska”
Sean Bobbitt, “12 Years a Slave”
Nat Sanders, “Short Term 12″
BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
“Blue Is The Warmest Color”
“20 Feet From Stardom”
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Days before celebrities strut their Armani and Gucci gowns at the Oscars, protesters rallied on the red carpet Friday to shine a spotlight on one of the awards show’s biggest disparities.
The security officers and others who make the star-studded event happen often earn yearly wages that are topped by the price of a single designer dress. About 50 security officers and supporters demonstrated in the lobby of the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard to protest the low pay and part-time work schedules they said leave security officers in poverty.
“When a dress becomes more valuable than the security officer who is protecting the lives of the entertainers and the folks that come to the event, that’s tragic,” Robert Branch, a security officer who has a full-time, union-negotiated job in downtown Los Angeles, told The Huffington Post.
The protest was coordinated by the Service Employees International Union, which represents some security officers, janitors and other service workers, including Branch.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which coordinates the Oscars every year, contracts its security officers through Security Industry Specialists, a non-union security company. According to the SEIU, SIS pays security officers about $15 an hour, but keeps most workers on part-time schedules, preventing them from qualifying for health insurance and paid sick days.
Part-time hours also prevent a viable income, the union said. If a security worker is making $15 an hour and working 20 hours a week, for example, earnings before taxes would be about $15,000 a year. Oscar gowns, by comparison, reportedly can cost upwards of $15,000.
“It’s hypocritical for Hollywood, with its Screen Actors Guild and other unions, to contract out non-union security officers,” Branch continued. “Why can’t security officers have protection too?”
The academy declined to comment.
Tom Seltz, co-president of SIS, said fewer than half of SIS employees are part time, although he said he did not know the exact number. In December, NPR reported that more than half of SIS employees were part time and without benefits, some relying on public assistance.
SIS provides security for large companies in Silicon Valley, including Google, Apple, Twitter and EBay. The security company is growing in Los Angeles, but still only has a few clients. For the Oscars, SIS subcontracted security officers to two companies, Staff Pro and McRoberts Protective. Seltz said he’s not sure what hours and wages the two subcontractors provide, and neither company responded to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Seltz maintained that when SIS has enough work to justify making an employee full time, it does so. He said SIS pays hourly wages ranging from $15 to $24. He accused SEIU of harassing SIS security officers about joining the union.
SEIU said in a statement that more than 40,000 security officers in the U.S., including more than 7,000 in California, have joined the union. Security officers in Los Angeles negotiated their first union contract in 2006. Branch said that, compared when he was a non-union security officer, he has more money, more employment security and more sick and vacation time as a union member.
Earlier this month, SEIU protested with about 40 security officers and community members at the Oscars nominee luncheon, attended by more than 100 nominees, including A-list actors and directors. The group plans to protest at the red carpet again during the Oscars on Sunday.
Community media received a major boost this week with the launch of the third Aswatona conference at the Dead Sea in Jordan.
More than 120 community radio activists from 14 Arab countries gathered at the lowest spot on Earth to talk about the challenges of producing, broadcasting and sustaining community owned media, especially radio.
Community radio activists from areas not under the control of the Syrian regime were the stars of the event organised by a local Jordanian NGO, Community Media Network, and the UK-based Community Media Solutions in association with Jordan’s Audio Visual Commission and the World Association of Community Broadcasters.
Broadcasting radio in the Middle East and North Africa is a huge challenge. The post-colonial region witnessed many revolts and military coups that always included taking over national radio. New powers were careful not to allow others to own radio stations so as not to have them do what they did when they took power.
For decades since, radio ownership has been the monopoly of governments. In recent years, private radio licences were given in some countries, usually to individuals who were very close to governing regimes. In most cases such licenses did not include permission to produce news or public affairs content.
The revolutions and chaos witnessed in the region has been a godsend to community radio activists who used the absence of a centralised power to come up with locally owned radio stations, often using amateur equipment and untrained staff.
Aswatona, an initial network of seven countries (Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Syria and Palestine) began with Swedish government funding that supported Internet radio in these countries as well as advocacy efforts to change the media laws in these countries to be more receptive to community owned media.
Wherever possible, these Internet stations were able to turn into FM.
The network expanded with further funding from the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office through the Sheffield-based Community Media Solutions, to include Algiers and Morocco, and to add many more Internet radio stations, especially in Palestine and Egypt. The project also included training workshops took place in Egypt, Palestine, Libya and Tunisia.
UNESCO and other international bodies have for years argued that radio should include three forms of ownership: state ownership in the form of public service broadcasting, commercial radio and community owned (or civil society owned) community radio.
UNESCO considers supporting community radio in the world to be one of its top priorities.
New constitutions in Egypt and Tunisia that saw the light because of strong efforts by civil society gave strong impetus translated into constitutional articles guaranteeing the right of citizens and local institutions owning broadcasting licences.
The International Telecommunications Union says that of the 6,000 frequencies available to the Middle East and North Africa only 10 per cent are being used.
Bureaucratic policies, restrictive laws and regulations, and exorbitant licence fees are holding back the growth of community owned broadcasting.
World Bank studies have shown that countries that support community radio are known to experience improved economic growth and a much more open environment for freedom of expression.
Jordan’s government, which distributes radio licences based on a temporary 2003 audiovisual law, will soon witness parliamentary debate on a permanent law that some hope will reduce some of the inadequacies in the current temporary law.
Among the changes in the government-proposed law, as outlined by Audio Visual Commission Director Amjad Qadi, is to create a board for the regulatory body and to have this organisation issue licences.
At present, the full Jordanian cabinet must approve any application, and the government has the right to reject a request without giving an explanation.
Two applications for community radio stations in Zarqa and Jofa, in the Jordan Valley, were among those rejected. A third application for a radio station in Deir Alla has been pending since May 20.
The convening of a community radio conference in Jordan has shown the diversity and pluralism in the region and the thirst that people of different ethnicities and backgrounds have for creating and owning media through which they can express themselves.
The more community radio is supported the more the region will move away from authoritarianism to decentralised democracy.
Megyn Kelly, speaking to Brit Hume about Arizona’s infamous SB 1062:
“I look at this bill and I wonder whether this is … an overreaction [by religious] people who feel under attack on this score, and in the end, they may have struck back in a way that’s deeply offensive to many and potentially dangerous to folks who are gay and lesbians and need medical services and other services being denied potentially.”
Hume: “I think you’re right.”
In honor of Black History Month, Jon Stewart said it was time that some people got their facts straight on how history really went down.
Stewart called out Fox Business Network’s “tribute” to Black History Month Monday night by playing a clip of Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano claiming that President Lincoln hurt the nation by leading “the most murderous war in America” rather than letting slavery die a “natural” death. Napolitano argued that Lincoln should have tried “purchasing the slaves and then freeing them.”
Here’s how Stewart responded:
“Compensated emancipation, why didn’t Lincoln think of that!? What’s that? Oh he did think of that. Oh! He spent most of 1862 trying to convince the border states of Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri and West Virginia to free their slaves in exchange for money and everybody said f*ck off…because it wasn’t economically feasible and the slave states had a deeply vested socio-political interest in maintaining a two-tiered culture based on cheap forced labor.”
Watch the video for the full clip on “The Daily Show.”
Moving Beyond Digital Hate at the University of Illinois; (Re)Starting a Conversation on Racist and Sexist Chat
It was only the beginning. But in listening to the concerns and thoughtful analysis provided by students at the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois recently, it was clear that the start of this conversation on racist and sexist hate speech was long overdue. Or, more accurately, the restart of the conversation.
We’ve been here before. At the beginning. The start. The re-start. The jump-start of conversations on bias and expression, the reflections on the consequences of that hostility. As if caught up in some twisted nightmare-of-a-”Ground Hog Day,” we keep coming back to this moment, this beginning, shaken by something alarming, only to hit the snooze button once again without ever rising and moving forward to a new level of understanding. In effect, it’s a nonstarter, if only for lack of follow-through. At least, that’s the way it’s been.
We had such a new beginning on our campus recently. A forum on assaultive expression — race- and gender-based Tweets. Unsociable media. The challenge we face now is in continuing the conversation — the conversation that will lead to some consensus, he consensus that will lead to change. The change that would seem to be as imperative as it is logical once people come to understand the destructive impact and enduring effect of racist and sexist hate speech.
So far, the response has been mixed. Some feel there is a compelling need for much more discussion of an issue that has affected them deeply, directly or otherwise. Others feel the beginning of this talk was quite enough — case closed, let’s move on. Still others are asserting that the campus dialogue never should have taken place — that we have made too much of what they consider merely juvenile behavior. Given this wide range of views, it would seem that even a conversation on the conversation may be enlightening. How are people looking at the same series of events and walking away with such dramatically different takes on it all?
The latest new beginning at Urbana was prompted by the Twitter hate speech that erupted a few weeks back when students expressed disapproval of the Sunday night mass email sent by Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise announcing that classes would be held the next day — Monday — despite a sub-zero temperature forecast. Like the weather, a number of the students were unforgiving. But, while the early Tweets consisted of random silliness (“Phyllis wears Crocs.” “Phyllis listens to Nickelback.”), the Jetstream-of-a-Twitter blowback that followed knocked the Polar Vortex from our consciousness. That’s because the Twitter chat quickly turned to something much more insidious, and far too familiar — painfully familiar — to people who have seen it before, or experienced it, or simply have it rolled into their cultural DNA. Under cover of an offensive hashtag, the Twitter meme morphed into racist and sexist attacks on Chancellor Wise, who is Asian American.
BuzzFeed.com broke the story and it went viral from there, with more than 900,000 views. Reaction came pretty quickly on the Illinois campus, as students — greatly outnumbering the Twitter mob — weighed in even before the BuzzFeed piece using the same offensive meme to condemn the hate speech. The student-run newspaper, The Daily Illini, registered its opinion against the vitriol. Damani Bolden (the first-ever African American student government president at Illinois) and a number of academic departments across campus published statements in support of diversity and civility. And Board of Trustees Chairman Christopher G. Kennedy joined with President Robert A. Easter in a strongly worded denunciation pointing to the “disgrace” to the University of Illinois caused by the student Tweets.
Then there was the public forum, titled “#onecampus” and organized by students, faculty and administrators to create a safe space for student dialogue about it all.
Interestingly, even though the chancellor’s aides helped students organize the forum, it wasn’t just because the chancellor had been targeted. It mostly was in recognition of the impact of the hostile expression on so many others. “I shudder to think what might happen if that type of vitriol had been directed at a vulnerable member of our student body or university community,” wrote Chancellor Wise, pointing to the value of her support network — one many students would not have.
Indeed, it has happened to people more vulnerable than the chancellor. According to students of color at the forum, hostile expression has been directed at them, and continues to be. In the dorms. On the quad. On the street — wrong street, wrong time when popular bars are emptying. And it is the very nature of this kind of offensive expression — an act of bias — that can make every member of an identifiable group feel attacked. Or they at least feel threatened. Experience shows that hostile expression is the first step on a continuum that leads to ethnoviolence. Or they feel marginalized. Several students expressed their feeling that the Illinois campus is segregated. Of course, it is not literally segregated. At least not since the 1950s. But that is the power of social marginalization, causing you to feel that you do not have the same full and equal rights of access to the benefits of citizenship as people who are more privileged. In the end, the students are made to feel unwelcome, as if they are trespassing, having stepped out of their assigned place in society, even at a public university.
There always are many more victims hit by hateful scattershot than just the person caught in the crosshairs. In this case, there are other Asian Americans who see how they are identified by way of the humiliating expression and stereotypes. There are members of other traditionally marginalized groups (African Americans, Latino/Latina Americans, LGBT group members, women) who identify with other victims of hate speech because they suspect that sooner or later it’s coming their way. Again.
That is why a number of students who spoke out at the #onecampus forum. They felt a commonality with Chancellor Wise, even though they also recognized the difference. After all, while they often suffer silently, the verbal assault on the chancellor brought public attention to the issue. High volume. So, if the path forward from the #onecampus event is going to lead to anything meaningful — finally — if this dialogue is not to end just where it began as so many have before this one, there has to be serious consideration given to the things that were shared the night of the forum, where I served as co-moderator with Yoon Pak, associate professor of Asian American Studies and Education Policy, Organization and Leadership. Mostly, we moderators listened, as students lined up to talk over the course of two hours.
There was the expected. There were students who feel marginalized because of their group membership, and who see expressions of racial, ethnic and gendered stereotypes and bias as assertions that they are unequal and unwelcome. There were students from privileged backgrounds who don’t recognize that they are privileged and who don’t quite understand how expression (come on, it’s only a joke) can hurt anyone. There were students who don’t want to identify with the students who don’t get it, and who want to reach out to embrace the students who feel marginalized.
There was the unexpected. A student apology. Senior Kimberly Arquines had joined in the Twitter string when it was still random silliness only to learn later what became of it all. She told the several hundred students attending the #onecampus forum how she wrote a letter of apology to Chancellor Wise, “hunted” her down to read it to her personally, and then came to the forum to share a version of it with the audience, on behalf of herself and others who had not come forward to apologize.
There was the unnecessary. At one point during the student comments, Renee Romano, vice chancellor for student affairs took to a mic to respond to a student’s concern that nothing is being done by the university administration to stop racist and sexist student behavior. Romano mostly read from her smart phone, scrolling down apparently to remind herself of the impressive list of diversity advocacy efforts of her campus units. More defensive than reassuring. After reciting all that her offices are doing, she essentially said there’s nothing she can do in cases like the Twitter episode. Threats will be investigated. Otherwise, speech is protected. Mixed message. To say the least.
Interestingly, everyone who spoke was applauded by the crowd. Irrespective of agreement or lack of agreement with what was expressed. A testament to the value of setting up a nonjudgmental framework for the dialogue. No doubt, a more thorough, open and comprehensive discourse on hostile expression on the Illinois campus likely would show that individual behavior is only the beginning of the story.
After all, too much attention is focused on individuals, as if addressing their behavior in some way resolves the problem. That behavior is only symptomatic of a larger problem, a structural problem in which people historically have used stereotypes and other forms of degrading and dehumanizing expression to justify the allocation of rank, privilege and power in our society — lower status for some and more privileged status for others.
That is not to say that individuals should not take responsibility for their actions. They must do so, as Kimberly Arquines did, if we are to engage in the restorative justice advocated by people like Dr. Mikhail Lyubansky, a lecturer in psychology at Illinois and one of the facilitators of the student discussion. Restorative justice builds on the kind of dialogue fostered by #onecampus. In the process of that kind of open, nonjudgmental discourse, a new level of consciousness is much more likely.
Awareness. An appreciation of the impact of things that are said and done. Even the imperceptibly small things to those who are not targeted by micro aggressions can become much bigger to the people who are — the people who can read between the lines of the backhanded compliments like, “You speak so well.” Or, the persistent use of “Phyllis” by hostile students in referring to the Illinois chancellor. An expression of a lack of respect, reminiscent of the way African Americans were addressed in the Jim Crow South, supporting the view that none of this latest offensive behavior would have happened if the chancellor had been a White male.
It all begins with expression. Its usefulness in sorting our roles in the social hierarchy, or — to flip the script — its power in deconstructing that hierarchy. So, this Twitter event and the conversation it has started is not, as Illinois Student Government President Damani Bolden has suggested, merely a teachable moment. It should be seen as a transformative moment. One that should be amplified and clarified by the media, and not criticized by local journalists, as some have done with the assumption that there is no continued need for this discourse. That is irresponsible. The media might be gatekeepers with respect to the information we receive on the day’s events, but the media are not gatekeepers of the events themselves. To control the conversation by discrediting it is to contribute to the very problem we should be trying to solve. It assumes that nothing of value can come of it, which, in turn, devalues the speaker.
That’s why, in the end, this is about more than just continuing the conversation. It is about changing the narrative in the hopes of having an enduring effect on social interaction. Otherwise, it’s just so much talk. That doesn’t mean we all agree on every issue. But we can share an appreciation of fundamental values of equality that justify our protection of speech.
So, hopefully, the conversation will continue this time. Purposefully. To produce new awareness.
That sharing jokes based on stereotypes perpetuates the problem. To get the joke, you must internalize the stereotype. To internalize the stereotype is to nurture it, sustain it, strengthen its effect.
New awareness. That even relatively small numbers of participants in acts of hateful expression can do a great deal of enduring damage. To the person who is targeted. To all the people who identify with that person.
New awareness that speech is not an absolute right. We balance First Amendment guarantees against other societal values. That is why free expression carries with it certain obligations to be responsible in order to avoid violating the rights of individuals in other areas. To say conclusively, if not dismissively, that we cannot touch speech without saying more about why free and responsible expression is so vital to our society, and without also saying that we value equal protection rights, is to suggest to victims that their concerns are not valid somehow, while tacitly validating the hostile speech.
The conversation must continue and in an historical and structural context set by the media in order to raise awareness on all sides. Otherwise, we will be locked into an endless game of racial Whac-A-Mole, knocking down incidents of offensive expression in one space only to have them pop up again in others.
New York Magazine previewed their new cover on Sunday that leaves us asking one question: Is Alec Baldwin calling it quits?
The cover features a serious-looking Baldwin, along with the words, “I Give Up.”
Here it is:
An early look at the cover of this week’s magazine: pic.twitter.com/wQJuctrfsY
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) February 23, 2014
New York Magazine writer Joe Hagan said that the article would be “a candid ‘as told to’ talk” with Baldwin. The former MSNBC host is reportedly saying “Good-bye [to] Public Life,” at the end of quite a tumultuous year, following the cancellation of his show “Up Late” after he was caught yelling angry, anti-gay slurs to a photographer in November.
Bill Maher thinks MSNBC is a little too obsessed with the Chris Christie story.
When Rachel Maddow appeared as a guest on “Real Time” Friday night, Maher asked if her network wasn’t going over the top in covering the scandal enveloping the New Jersey governor’s office.
“It’s the top story every night. It’s two months into this scandal and I just wonder if it is too much,” Maher said.
“Here’s the thing — I am totally obsessed with the Christie story, unapologetically,” Maddow said, “and will continue to be obsessed with it as amazing things in that story continue to happen.” The Christie story, she argued, is just as crazy as former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s corruption scandal.
Maher wasn’t convinced the story deserved the kind of top billing it’s been getting on MSNBC. “It’s not Watergate. He’s not the president. He’s a New Jersey governor who did something bad … but is it really that bad?”
“I’m sorry, when there are gonzo political corruption stories, you cover them,” Maddow shot back, “and the most interesting thing about the Christie one is that it’s still not resolved, we still don’t really know what happened.”
Maher wrote in a blog post earlier this month that, while he loves MSNBC, he might have to “break up with” the network because it’s “obviously interested in another man.”
Overall Maher hasn’t been very impressed by the Christie scandal. “This is not the disaster for him that people think it is,” he said in a January appearance on MSNBC’s “Hardball.” “I think it’s [like] Miley Cyrus. It looked like a scandal when she was twerking at the VMA awards, but it turned out that it just made her a bigger star.”
Christie, for his part, has been on the offensive against MSNBC since its hosts began floating theories about his possible involvement in the decision to abruptly shut down two of the George Washington Bridge’s access lanes in September, causing a crippling days-long traffic jam.
When MSNBC published a report in January alleging that Christie’s office withheld Hurricane Sandy relief funds as a political bargaining chip, Christie spokesman Colin Reed said the network was out to get him. “MSNBC is a partisan network that has been openly hostile to Governor Christie and almost gleeful in their efforts attacking him, even taking the unprecedented step of producing and airing a nearly three-minute attack ad against him this week.” Reed said in a statement at that time.
Andy Warhol said in the future everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. In 2014 it is closer to six seconds.
The level of fame rock stars used to reach after years of practicing guitar, months of touring and weeks in the studio is now attainable through Vine videos and well-tagged photos on Instagram.
With fewer young people watching TV, the Internet is the new place for overnight stardom. The phenomenon of sudden fame emerging on the Internet is sometimes described as “instafame.” The word refers to shooting stars from platforms such as Vine, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube who are raking in fans by the millions and winning proportional paid sponsorships.
Brands who are determined to reach audiences in a relevant way are looking to Vine and YouTube stars to market their products. For example, Samsung sent Vine-star Andrew Bachelor to Electric Zoo last summer to make vines on their behalf. He established a rate that many of his fellow Vine-stars picked up of $1,000 per every 100,000 followers.
“I have my rate that I charge, which is $1,000 per 100,000 followers. So if I had 1 million followers, that’s $10,000 per Vine. I have 1.9 million now, so… they’re going to be paying the big ones,” Bachelor was quoted explaining. That was back in August of 2013. He now has 5.2 million followers, which would mean a sponsored Vine would cost $52,000. He has also since landed himself a spot on the Showtime drama, House of Lies.
Pepsi recruited a superstar cast of Vine stars such as Logan Paul, UsTheDuo, Marcus Johns and Vine dancer Amymarie Gaertner (each with 2-4 million Vine followers) for the Super Bowl half-time. Amymarie is now also promoting American Eagle’s Live Your Life Campaign. Taco Bell got over a million views when they worked with YouTube star FreddieW on the FieryDLT commercial.
Amymarie is a great dancer and Bachelor a determined actor, but the even more popular Nash Grier doesn’t act or sing, or do any one thing in particular. He is a 16-year-old boy doing 16-year-old boy things, which he then posts on Vine. Grier has 5.7 Million followers. The previously explained pay scale would put Grier’s rate up to almost $60k per Vine — about two years salary for a typical entry level position for a recent college graduate. And he is earning these big bucks before he has even lived long enough to acquire any student loans.
However, selling out isn’t always a good look. Seeing a charismatic, homegrown YouTube star forcing a smile and pretending to fit into a brand-box feels kind of like watching a caged unicorn.
Brand sponsorships are not the only way the “instafamous” are turning followers into dollar signs. Meet-and-greet conventions such as the Magcon tour charge about $150.00 for the VIP Experience, in which fans get to meet and take pictures with their favorite “instafamous” boys. They’re making bank on merchandise, too.
Although it is initially hard to grasp why boys like Nash Grier and Cameron Dallas have girls screaming and chasing them in the streets just for tweeting pictures of themselves, these people are really getting famous for their charisma, looks, humor and social smarts– the same thing that has been drawing audiences since Oscar Wilde. The Beatles reached unprecedented fame in a short amount of time by having the look for broadcast TV and the sound for for Top 40 radio as those delivery systems were coming into their full influence. Cameron Dallas appeals to teenagers at the moment they are turning to bite-sized entertainment delivered through mobile devices.
(Image from Astronauts Wanted’s Instagram account. Full video here.)
User-generated entertainment platforms such as Vine and Instagram are especially valuable for artists and entertainers who already have a skill and need a vehicle to reach audiences. In addition to pretty boys, there are photographers, filmmakers and fashionistas who might be unknown without their iPhones. For example, model Emily Ratajkowski (@Emmrata) from Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” video has maximized her moment of fame by hooking an audience with daily updates on Instagram. Illustrator Lady Artistica is able to show the progress of her sketches to her 11,000 followers on Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest. Rapper Awkwafina amassed a following before dropping her album by making hilarious YouTube videos with emerging director, Court Dunn.
Instafame certainly has its appeal. The temptation for a teenager with talent or good looks is to skip college, training and a lifetime of debt from student loans in favor of viral fame.
Of course the dangers of instant fame without support skills and the perspective of education are very real. Amassing a huge following without knowing exactly why all these people like you must be at the least confusing. As quickly as all of that validation came, it could disappear. For the teenage “instafamous,” regular high school pressures reach exponential degrees, with some fans tweeting to their “instafamous” crushes that they will commit suicide if that person does not follow him or her back on Twitter.
Putting all of your info out on the Internet is also a recipe for stalkers — the followers who stick around when the rest of the fleeting public has moved on.
So by all means, go to college. Develop a skill set. Learn the fine points of your craft. But before you take student loans for a six-year master’s program in photography, see how audiences respond to the talents you already have. You might just get that master’s degree paid for by your Instagram account.
When it comes to insulting the president of the United States, Republican politicians have officially drawn the line.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) took to his Twitter account Thursday to denounce the rockstar Ted Nugent for calling President Barack Obama a “subhuman mongrel:”
Ted Nugent’s derogatory description of President Obama is offensive and has no place in politics. He should apologize.
— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) February 21, 2014
Paul isn’t the only Republican to come down on Nugent for the comment. His tweet came hours after Texas Gov. Rick Perry told CNN that he “wouldn’t have used those words.”
“The idea that Ted Nugent has said something that’s outrageous shouldn’t surprise anybody. He’s been saying outrageous things for a lot of years,” Perry added. “He shouldn’t have said that about the president of the United States.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also denounced the comments, telling CNN’s Dana Bash on Thursday that he didn’t agree with Nugent.
“Those sentiments there, of course I don’t agree with them,” Cruz replied, and added “You’ve never heard me say such a thing, nor would I.”
It appears Nugent doesn’t regret the comment. In the last few hours, he’s taken to Twitter to ask his followers whether words are more offensive than things like the “government spying on Americans” and “making the poor poorer.”
Are words really more offensivethan engineered unemployment
— Ted Nugent (@TedNugent) February 20, 2014
Are words really more offensivethan 5 dead Americans on Obamaswatch
— Ted Nugent (@TedNugent) February 20, 2014
Are words really more offensivethan government spying on Americans
— Ted Nugent (@TedNugent) February 20, 2014